Shooting Your Way Out of a Creative Rut

by | Jun 25, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Color is descriptive. Black and white is interpretive.” – Elliott Erwitt

When I’m in a rut, I shoot monochrome images to help me get out of it. What I like to do to get out of a rut is shooting some  photographs in direct monochrome mode. It doesn’t have to be all of the images that I shoot during an assignment or even if I’m just going to Cars & Coffee; It’s just a few to, you know, see what happens.

How I made this shot: I photographed this vintage Ford pickup truck at the annual Chenango Car Show, which I’m guessing will not be held this year. But you never know and one can only hope. Camera used was my Olympus Pen F that I plan to take to the Highlands Ranch 4th Saturday Cruise this coming Saturday; Hope to see you there. If you attend, please say Hi! Lens was the Olympus M.14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R at 14mm with an exposure of 1/320 sec at f/8 and ISO 320. Image was captured as RAW+JPEG and the color RAW file was converted to monochrome using Exposure X5’s Pinhole lens preset.

If you think that shooting in direct  a bad idea because you worry about what might happen if you change your mind at some later date and want that original to be in color? Most digital cameras have a RAW+JPEG option that lets you capture a monochrome (JPEG) and color (RAW) file at the same time. Some dual-slot DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, even let you simultaneously save each file type to a different card.

If you prefer to capture in color and convert to monochrome later in the digital darkroom that’s not a bad idea either. The biggest differences is than some plug-in, for example, work much better with a color (RAW or JPEG) file than a monochrome more. That’s when I’ll use the RAW file, enhance it and then convert to monochrome using Silver Efex Pro or Alien Skin’s Exposure X5.

Tip: Another great idea to prevent your photography from becoming stagnant is to make a new photograph each day. It’s actually harder to do that it sounds but give it a try, even if you miss a day or two.


My book Creative Digital Monochrome Effects is available new from Amazon for $31.90 and used for the bargain price around two bucks, cheaper than your next coffee at a Starbucks drive-through. There’s even a chapter on infrared photography, if you want to give that genre a try. There’s no Kindle version at the time, sorry.